The Los Angeles Dodgers fell just short of completing a four-game sweep of the San Diego Padres over the weekend as Craig Kimbrel blew his third save of the season in a 4-2 loss at Dodger Stadium.
The right-hander began the ninth by striking out Manny Machado, only to then get drilled on his upper back by a 100.5 mph line drive off Jake Cronenworth’s bat. Kimbrel initially remained in the game but proceeded to allow two runs.
One came on a fly ball to left field that Gavin Lux appeared to have a read on but it hit high off the fence for a game-tying RBI double. Eric Hosmer’s base hit then gave the Padres a lead.
Kimbrel won’t need a stint on the 15-day injured list but he is expected to be sidelined for a few days. The 34-year-old is frustrated by the setback as he felt he had been throwing the ball well lately, via Bill Plunkett of the Southern California News Group:
“I think that’s part of the frustration too. I felt like I had really just started putting my foot down and getting on a roll,” Kimbrel said. “Then a line drive off the back – it’s frustrating.”
Prior to his blown save against the Padres, Kimbrel had not allowed an earned run in five consecutive appearances dating back to June 19. He attributed his recent success to improved mechanics:
“It’s just timing,” he said. “Just trusting getting my foot down and going toward the plate, trusting the ball was going to go where it needs to go. And it has been. It’s shown signs of being really great and signs of not. Once this back heals up and I get on the mound, I can get back to being good.”
While Kimbrel has gotten better results over the past two weeks, his 2022 season as a whole has been largely inconsistent. In 28 games, he owns a 1-4 record, 4.78 ERA, 1.97 FIP, 1.52 WHIP and 14 saves with 41 strikeouts against 12 walks across 26.1 innings pitched.
Roberts sticking with Kimbrel as Dodgers closer
Despite not being the dominant closer he once was, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts has no plans to remove Kimbrel from his role. “Right now I’m not even considering that (removing Kimbrel as closer). I think he’s earned that,” Roberts said.
“Also, just given where our bullpen is at and who we have, to have the ability to deploy guys in different spots has its value as well. I just think the net of having Craig as our closer is pretty easy.”
Are you following Dodger Blue on Instagram? It’s the best way to see exclusive coverage from games and events, get your questions answered, and more!